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I felt the earth move under my feet

February 10, 2010

It was 4 a.m. when I woke up wondering if the snow plow had skidded down our steep and slippery driveway and crashed into the garage. There was a loud almost mechanical rumbling, growing louder as if something enormous was approaching, and the house shook. The brass handles on my grandmother’s desk rattled loudly and I could hear things falling over in AJ’s room. And then it stopped and all was eerily quiet. My heart pounding, I leapt out of bed and ran to the landing to look out the window over the front door. Nothing. I heard AJ jump out of bed. He ran out into the hallway.

“What was that?”

“I don’t know, sweetie. Go back to bed.”

But I couldn’t sleep. I prowled around the house, looking out every window for some sign of what had happened. No fallen trees. No overflowing spring in the basement. No explosions in the boiler room. I made another loop and another and then went back to bed, although not back to sleep. Instead, I did what any sensible person would have done — I got on the internet. My next door neighbor was twittering too. Within minutes, we’d both figured out it was an earthquake. This was a possibility that had not crossed my mind. In the middle of a nasty snowstorm, all unexplained events seem snow related.

The epicenter, it turns out, it is a scant bike ride away from here (in fact, Julia and I have ridden fairly close to it before). Most of our friends in the city didn’t feel it, but I think you would have been hard pressed to miss it out here. I spent the rest of the night reading up on the US Geological Survey website and thinking about how much I was looking forward to telling AJ about it.

AJ, as I had expected, was beside himself with excitement. He went running into his room to get his big book on earthquakes and other natural disasters and we spent breakfast pouring over all the information we could find. I showed him how to report an earthquake to the USGS. We looked at charts and maps, tried to assess the level of the quake. We read online news reports and wondered how we’d describe the experience if we were asked for an eyewitness account.

Today is gorgeous and sunny. There is a foot of snow on the ground and most of our belongings are back where they came from. But I’m pretty sure AJ’s excitement is going to continue for some time.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2010 2:01 pm

    I can tell my boys about all the snow that friends and family are experiencing. I can show them pictures of snow forts and igloos, beautiful trees and homes covered with white. I can even tell them that others are off from school. They’d be excited by it all but it would be contained. But… if I told Pook that you “got to” experience an earthquake, he’d lose it with jealousy. (After Haiti, Bug might be a bit frightened.)

  2. February 10, 2010 5:26 pm

    I grew up atop the New Madrid fault, but you never get used to feeling the earth move, especially when it wakes you!

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